Journalism in the Public Interest

Banks Face New Rules on Foreclosures from Skeptical State Judges

As banks resume foreclosures and claim to have added safeguards to their processes, it’s been left up to state court judges to decide whether they buy what the banks are saying.

Many judges haven’t.

The Washington Post, for instance, spoke with some judges in New York who estimated that they're dismissing about 20 to 50 percent of foreclosure cases due to documentation flaws. The state’s chief judge issued a new rule last month requiring lawyers handling foreclosures to verify that all documents in the proceeding are accurate—and lawyers filing bad documents could face “penalties of perjury.”

The Wall Street Journal noted this week that across the country, other state courts have also tried to enforce some measure of quality control:

The Maryland appeals court's new policy permits judges to require lawyers to testify to the validity of the underlying affidavit in a foreclosure case. Judges also can order notaries public to appear in court or appoint special masters to review foreclosure documentation.

Ohio's Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas said last week it would give servicers and lenders 30 days to ensure that they have filed proper paperwork—or else their cases will be dismissed. The court, which covers Cleveland, also said judges will require lawyers in residential foreclosure cases to file affidavits swearing that they have taken "reasonable steps" to verify the accuracy of documents filed to the court.

In Florida, the Journal noted, a judge has been forcing lawyers to defend the fees that law firms charged to homeowners—and in one case found that a firm had signed off on $1,630 in fees when the number should have been $175.

But even within a state, judges’ positions vary. In the same state, one foreclosure defense attorney complained to the Post that “the banks themselves have slowed down, but not the judges. ... They are the robo-signers.” (That’s also the sentiment in a piece published in this week’s Rolling Stone about judges who preside over what are called “rocket dockets.”) Here’s more from the Post:

In a cramped, makeshift courtroom, Broward County Judge Victor Tobin was signing off on uncontested foreclosure cases as fast as a clerk could keep them coming, only a few seconds per file.

"Batter up," he said as he finished one stack and eyed the next. With scores of cases remaining on the day's "rocket docket" earlier this week and tens of thousands more awaiting judgment in this courthouse, there was little time to pause.

On the other side of the state, in a Sarasota County courtroom, another judge on a recent day was taking a dramatically different tack. Impatient with attorneys for lenders trying to seize hundreds of homes, fed up with their sloppy paperwork and errant practices, Judge Harry Rapkin dismissed 61 foreclosure cases in that single day - a quarter of those awaiting his approval. While the plaintiffs could re-file, it would mean hefty fees and significant delay.

Outside of the courts, other efforts to hold the banks accountable are ongoing. Iowa’s Attorney General, who’s leading a 50-state foreclosure probe, told Bloomberg this week that the investigation is “on a fast track.” He hinted that any agreement with the banks would require that they put more resources to servicing and improve loan modification procedures.

The Senate Banking Committee also announced the first congressional hearing focused on the foreclosure scandal. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase officials are scheduled to testify at the hearing, scheduled for next Thursday.

Inform our investigations: Do you have information or expertise relevant to this story? Help us and journalists around the country by sharing your stories and experiences.

Anita Mitchell

Nov. 11, 2010, 3:58 p.m.

Judge-activists is what they will be branded but they are only doing their job….and doing it well.  If they are the only people interested in the letter of the law then so be it.  Watch Congress stealthily pass something that makes this electronic mortgage system the banks devised to screw States out of their transfer fees (MERS) an acceptable standard.  The truth is this:  No original loan note, no standing in court.  If I can’t take a copy of a dollar bill to the grocery, banks shouldn’t be able to foreclose without an original note.  It’s their system, they invented it, and it has failed.  Now if we just allow them to reap the consequences of their own actions (loose a few thousand properties where they can not provide the proper paperwork) THEY will work out the problems they caused themselves.  No begging from us, no incentives (our tax dollars again) from the government.  How many times will be bail out these institutions before there is a public revolt.  We need a third political party in this country.  Both Dems and Republicans have failed the taxpayer.  Lets another party in and they can steal for a change.


Nov. 11, 2010, 6:37 p.m.

No need for another political party; what we do need is an Article V Amendments Convention by and for “We The People…”.  Change the Institutionalized Corruption with high law—constitutional law—that the legislative, executive or judicial branches cannot manipulate once 38 states or 75% of the People agree with (ratify) any and all proposed amendments presented.  Enough is enough—Since history began, all political reformations the world over have always come down to one thing: A tipping-point majority joined in common cause.  If you want to help return our nation to the Constitution, the rule of law, and its founding principles, then you’ve come to the right place—

Tee McDonnell

Nov. 11, 2010, 7:30 p.m.

This shocking number of foreclosures is primarily due to greedy banks who put people into questionable mortgages in order to make money off the top.  Now their agents will post about irresponsible homeowners who weren’t forced to buy homes and should have read the fine print…but most homeowners rely on the expertise of bankers, realtors, lawyers—all of whom stand to make money on a closed deal and most of whom put their clients into a network of client services.

How can anyone look favorably on the perpetrators of such widespread fraud benefitting again from the mess they caused without lawful scrutiny?  If the fine print is so important, then banks should be held accountable that every document is legal and executed properly.  This entire matter is disgusting.

Problems in Mortgage Servicing From Modification to Foreclosure
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
02:30 PM - 05:00 PM
538 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The witnesses will be: The Honorable Tom Miller, Attorney General, State of Iowa; Ms. Barbara J. Desoer, President, Bank of America Home Loans; Mr. David Lowman, CEO, Chase Home Lending; Mr. Adam J. Levitin, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; and Ms. Diane Thompson, Counsel, National Consumer Law Center. Additional witnesses may be announced at a later date.

1 million letters by Nov 16th 2010 to Washington DC from homeowners
Bank of America, J.P. Morgan home loan officials to testify before Congress on November 16th 2010

This is our Chance to let the elected officials know how we feel. I believe if we flood them with letters we the people might have a Chance for our voices to be heard. I know they will not read all letters, but can you imagine when a committee receive this much mail?

I sent the following email to Propublica. You should send one too to your local media.

Bank of America, J.P. Morgan home loan officials to testify before Congress on November 16th 2010
Please help, by announcing on your website that we need to send a minimum of 1 million letters from homeowners with troubled mortgages to this address by NOV 16th 2010.

Maybe this way elected officials will be paying attention to solve the current housing crisis.

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
534 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-7391

(202) 224-5137

We need to encourage local government officials to sue MERS, the banks, the title companies, the lawyers, and all other related parties for failure to pay property transfer fees. The whole thing started out as a tax cheat system and then turned into a Ponzi scheme, before caving in on itself, as all schemes do once they have played themselves out.

I send my letter with the following :

One of the most damage things committed to homeowners is that even some borrowers that are current in their mortgage are losing their home to foreclosure do to the following criminal practices by banks
1- Customer is current but straggling
2- Bank tells borrower that he is pre-qualified for a reduce payment
3 Borrower enters in to a 3 month trial period reduce payment with promises that after the 3 payments and sending some other documents he will be qualify for the permanent modification
4- bank requests the same documents again and again for months and months
5-The Three month trial period becomes 8-10-12 month trial periods
6- The trial period payments are not being apply to the debt and is a accumulating fees and interest, etc
6- in the meant time borrower starts getting statements that he owes thousand of dollars
7-After many months on the trial period and sending same documents more a dozen of times, Bank denies the permanent modification and ask the borrower to pay thousands of dollars that now he is behind plus fees, accumulated interest, etc or bank will foreclose (remember borrower was current)
8- borrower now is in a worst situation than before so the bank put the borrower in this situation
9- Bank foreclose on the house
10- Borrower loses home
This is the new America today

PS On top of that we find out that banks are doing fraud with foreclosures? were are the property rights in this country? property rights are the core of the American freedom and capitalism and is being systematically violated by these banks
not to mention the the thousand of dollars they make when they foreclose on the borrowers home, because they collected their Insurance (AIG)

Nissim Samson Very good letter.

Foreclosure Gang Rape, Louisiana Style. . .(re: Wells Fargo)

“. . .Assuming from the title of this essay, a reader could rightfully not be inclined to expect this narrative to be easy on the sensibilities.  In fact, despite countless foreclosure information, this is probably as somberly gripping as a narrative can get concerning mortgage and foreclosure.

Not in a sexual sense, but “rape” here synonymously describes the following things that were forced upon the victim:  defilement, molestation, exploitation, humiliation, bigotry, betrayal, invasion, revilement, assault, depredation, torture, despoliation, stigmatization,  maltreatment, denigration, ruin, pillage, plunder, ransack, spoliation, violation, impingement, racism.

This true story is not being shared for persons with settled viewpoints about people in foreclosure deserving whatever happens.  It is the victim’s appeal and hope that people who read this story will be prompted to outrage, as well as prompted to circulate this story until change comes –and not merely for this one victim.

“. . .so that the ravished victim might have an opportunity to begin a road to recovery, an opportunity to begin recompense, to cease from being wrongfully blamed (notwithstanding other things deserved), the victim has no other choice –and is running out of time!  Moreover, it is imperative this story be told so that the guilty persons, who boastfully flaunt before the victim, will be brought to justice, as well as prevented from additional such acts. . .”

I’m from NJ and NJ is broke for several reasons, on of them is MERS. In the last 10 years it is estimated that in this state alone MERS avoided paying transfer fees of more than 4 billion dollars. Where is the NJ Attornry General in going after these fees which were illegally avoided? Where was the NJ court system when the forclosures started to clog the courts. The comment by “One Sovereign Citizen” above is right on point. Until officials and the courts are held to the same stardards as citizens, nothing ois going to change and the US as we kew it 60 years ago will continue to disintigrate.

Robert Stockmann

Nov. 12, 2010, 7:51 p.m.

The first couple of “planks” of the Communist Manifesto are telling :

1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.

The fact that US Court Judges are speeding up foreclosures of homes: “rocket docket” “but not the judges [5]. ... They are the robo-signers.”, should be enough reason to start a US Military assisted investigation into Communistic infiltration of the US legal system. The Police apparently is too corrupt to do this.


Why would the banks modify when they can foreclose?

This is the evidence of why is it better for banks to foreclose. The Banks knew this when they got the bail out. So did Henry Paulson who made fool of the American people when he promised that the bail out will help stabilize the housing market.

This video is also evidence that banks had no intention of helping homeowners.
Only thing got stabilized is bigger bonuses for Wall Street fat cats.…eature=related

lawgrace and all -  I have a question for all of you:  What does Hugo Chavez and Wells Fargo have in common?  I guess you know about both but not enough.  Chavez one moment hugs the President of Venezuela’s neighboring country, then (perhaps he does not take his medication) tells his people his neighbor needs to be punished, and puts a complete stop to imports.  Then he goes to the next summit and hugs the man and says that everything is copacetic.  Then he accuses the same neighboring government of something or other and sends troops to the border.  Then he decides that there were some misunderstandings.  Then he sells arms to the narco-terrorist guerrillas next door… , get my drift?  Answer:  They are both manic depressive and a dictatorship.  My friend gets attacked and threatened by Wells for standing up to them on again off again and when pressured by agencies upon receiving complaints, they send wonderful letters from the President’s Office, each with a different name.  By now the President’s Office must be running out of space for desks.  They are probably now in balconies, the basement, the boiler room, the gardener’s shed…, well this last one is not good for the winter, though your tax dollars and mine have given them enough money to install heating systems there too.
(sorry about the typos in the other link)

Nissim hit the nail on the head. Never in a million years did I think I would be tricked by my govt into losing my home. A co-worker just got her load mod, the payment was actually higher!!! Really!!!!!!

Intelligent reporting and conversation is one thing, but intelligent action is a horse of a different color.

Begin ramping up your education on an Article V Amendments Convention; the ONLY lawful means of reclaiming our Republic for “We The People…” (which includes your grandchildren!).  DEMAND that Congress call a convention as mandated in Article V of the United States Constitution—participate in democracy with others by joining with any or all of several groups focusing on a peaceful revolution.

All these groups need funding to carry forward their work to Save The Republic!  Chip in and help this nation return to the values that made “America” a word revered.

Every time you read great journalism by ProPublica, think about how YOU can help pressure Congress to call a convention so “We The People…” can get this country back on track.  Thanks.


Gabor the fax # in incorrect just tried to fax my letter.Could you possible check the #


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